Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What's In A Name?

I mean, there are people with surnames of Roach, Ratz, Katz, Cabbage, Pope, Rich, Queen, Prince, King, Butts, Bugg, Buffalo, Bird, Worms, Mutz, Pigg, Stout, Ruff, Little ... and people with first names of Cookie, Candy, Rose, Lilly, Earth, Summer, Spring, April, Mae, June, Leo, Tuesday, Dakota, Washington, Georgia, and Carolina. If you had time and desire to pursue this, probably many more names that are descriptive of animals, plants, seasons, months, days, locations, constellations, confectionaries, and regal position could be found just by looking in telephone directories. The names I've mentioned above I've personally come across in my life wanderings. It's interesting to ponder how people react to their own names and how they are or are not influenced by the name of another person if it happens to be on the unusual side.

For a while during my youthful show biz life, I often found myself cast in the same productions as another girl whose main act was dancing, although she would precede her dance number with a sung verse of the song. Her stage name was Sheila Rose. Now, doesn't that have a beautiful sound?

Someone told me he had never eaten, and would never eat ... yogurt ... because its name sounds so "homely". If "they" would change its name, he said, he could be convinced to try it.

As a babe in arms, I was compared to a "loaf of pumpernickel bread" by one of our neighbors, thus dubbing me "Pumpkin". This was the explanation given to me when my parents, neighborhood kids, aunts, uncles, and cousins called me by the evolved version, "Punkin", with my cousins later innocently shortening it further to "Punk". I didn't think too much of it until my other acquaintances overheard it and were quizzical. Fortunately, it gradually faded out, though my father clung to it out of habit, as did my step-father.

My mother often told me she'd wanted to name me "Melody". I do love my name of Clara (which was also my mother's name), though "Melody" reminds me of the song "A pretty girl is like a melody", a sentiment that I like.

I began this post about names because I wanted to tell how Dixie Lee (my dog) got her name. She's a very regal, pretty, rather aloof, intelligent, and polite dog -- so any name that conveys those qualities (Monique, Celeste, Athena) would have been appropriate for her. She likes the timbre of her name. When I say the two names together, she immediately pays more attention than if I just say "Dixie", much like a child when his mother says "Gregory Peter, you come here this instant"! Gregory Peter has a bigger, better punch than just "Gregory". I once knew someone whose son had these names.

My dog was named after Dixie Lee Junction (!), a crossroad, where Route 11 intersects with Route 70 in Lenoir City, TN. When I first moved to Knoxville (in late 1986), I heard someone mention Dixie Lee Junction ... probably they were trying to tell me how to get to places in the area. The name sounded exciting to me and I pictured a glitzy, busy, touristy place and wanted to see it! For those of you who are not Tennesseans or familiar with the area, DLJ has none of the above-mentioned characteristics; it is quaintly picturesque, mainly marked, at least in my mind, by a fireworks store, a liquor store, and a gasoline station; there is a Dairy Queen several miles down further on Route 11. It was rural, too, back at that time. But the name was rhythmical, intriguing, even melodic. My Dixie Lee, by any other name, would be a Rose, an Athena, a Monique, a Celeste, or a Dixie Lee!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love Your Blog.
Leslie Ashworth